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Sarah Jarosz
Follow Me Down
Review By Steven Stone

 

  I've known Sarah Jarosz since she was 13, when I met her at the Rockygrass Academy. Even at that age she could play rings around me and most other mandolin players in the advanced workshops. Watching Jarosz play with Domenic Lesley and Chris Thile during a subsequent Rockygrass workshop was a real musical treat. So it should come as no surprise when I tell you I'm more than slightly a fan.

Follow Me Down is Jarosz' second album. She's been attending the New England Conservatory where she's studying contemporary improvisation on an NEC Presidential Merit Scholarship. I think I can already hear NEC's influence on her musical style. It's not as if she's suddenly playing Bach or BeBop, but Jarosz' latest compositions have a greater range of melodic expression and more diverse influences than the songs on her first album, Song Up In Her Head. Follow Me Down is less old-timey gothic and more directed toward modern 21st century acoustic music. Not that Jarosz has fully abandoned gothic themes one of her original songs, "Annabelle Lee," draws major inspiration from the Edgar Allen Poe poem with the same name.

Joining Jarosz on Follow Me Down are a host of exceptional players including the Punch Brothers Band, Bela Fleck, Jerry Douglas, Stuart Duncan, Edgar Meyer, Dan Tyminski, Darrell Scott, and her regular touring "group" of Alex Hargreaves and Nathaniel Smith. Produced by Gary Paczosa, whose work with Alison Krauss has garnered a bunch of Grammys, the sound throughout the album is clear yet warm. And even with double tracking and EQ tricks Jarosz' voice retains its direct and guileless power. Her picking isn't bad either, although much of her playing is relegated to fundamental rhythm parts with only the occasional solo. But given an opportunity Jarosz churns out a lead lines on her octave mandolin solo on "Old Smitty" that are seriously HOT. Hopefully Follow Me Down will help create the legions of fans she deserves.

 

 

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